Over the past week I have written quite a few columns extolling the joyous virtues of Ken Ludwig’s Lend Me a Tenor. Could I have been a bit premature in commenting on the manic comedy that was coming our way? Happily, I was concerned for absolutely no reason. Ludwig’s classic comedy of mistaken identity opened Friday night on the stages of Peoria’s Arizona Broadway Theatre and proved that it was still as resilient and riotously funny as ever.
Arizona Broadway Theatre’s Executive Producer and Co-Founder Kiel Klaphake has directed Ludwig’s farce at a non-stop, breathlessly hilarious pace. His delightful penchant for the insane is obvious and ably abetted by an ensemble of tireless and exhaustingly funny farceurs, including Maris Fernandes, Michael Wolter, James Rio, Morgan Springer, Roy Hunt, David Errigo, Jr., Morgan Rudolph and Carolyn McPhee. The gorgeous art deco set design is the superb handiwork of Dori Brown, and she has included the requisite abundance of doors to slam, complementing the evening’s craziness beautifully, allowing the cast to all run wildly, rampantly amok. Laura Wirth has designed the fabulously stunning costumes, simply wonderful recreations of 1930’s prêt-à-porter.
Lend Me a Tenor, originally titled Opera Buffa, was first produced at the American Stage Festival in England. The play was then produced in London’s West End by Andrew Lloyd Webber, opening on March 6, 1986 at the Globe Theatre, where it ran for ten months, closing on January 10, 1987. It was nominated for the Olivier Award for Comedy of the Year.
The Broadway production, opened on March 2, 1989 at the Royale Theatre, where it ran for 476 performances. The cast included Philip Bosco, Victor Garber, Ron Holgate, Tovah Feldshuh, Caroline Lagerfelt, and Jane Connell. Lend Me a Tenor was nominated for seven 1982 Tony Awards, winning one for Best Actor in a Play for Bosco. It was also nominated for six 1982 Drama Desk Awards, winning four, Outstanding Actor in a Play (Bosco), Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (Feldshuh), Outstanding Director of a Play and Outstanding Costume Design.
A Broadway revival of Lend Me a Tenor opened this Spring at the Music Box Theatre on April 4, 2010. The new production received rave reviews and was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Play. It closes on August 15.
The ABT production sports two incredibly winning performances by Michael Wolter as Max and Roy Hunt as Tito. When Tito, a world famous opera singer and notorious Lothario, Il Stupendo, appears to have succumbed to an overdose, Max is bullied into assuming his identity to perform Tito’s role that night in Verdi’s Otello. From that point on, the laughter is brutally endless and consistently uproarious. No less funny are Morgan Springer as Tito’s ever suspicious wife, Maria, and Morgan Rudolph as Diana, a delectable man-hungry diva.
Lend Me a Tenor is ABT’s first non-musical and a better choice could not have been made. If you are looking for a fun evening of great comedy, then Lend Me a Tenor is just the ticket. Ludwig’s comedy will play in classic repertory with ABT’s fabulous new production of Joe DiPietro and Jimmy Robert’s very popular musical I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. Lend Me a Tenor runs through September 26 and I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change runs through September 19.
If you would like to read The Examiner review of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, please see I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change reviewed at Arizona Broadway Theatre.
Photos from top to bottom:
1. L to R Front Row: Maggie (Maris Hernandes), Saunders (James Rio), Bellhop (David Errigo, Jr.).
Back Row: Diana (Morgan Rudolph), Maria (Morgan Springer).
2. Tito (Roy Hunt) and Max (Michael Wolter).
3. Max (Michael Wolter) and Diana (Morgan Rudolph).
4. Carolyn McPhee and Tanner Bollinger in I LoveYou, You’re Perfect, Now Change.
Photos by Joseph Martinez and David Errigo Jr., courtesy of Arizona Broadway Theatre.
For additional information regarding I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Lend Me a Tenor ticket availability and/or repertory performance schedule, please contact the Arizona Broadway Theatre Box Office directly, either by phone at (623) 776 8400 or ON LINE.